Does Not Compute. Does Not Compute
‘Does not compute. Does not compute.’ This sounds like something you would hear from a robot or a workstation and it is.
I thought that HAL said it in ‘2001:A Space Odyssey, made in 1968. But it was first used in a television show in 1964 and was really popularized by ‘Lost In Space’ in 1965. Now what does this have to do with Thailand you ask? Everything I say. You are there now — back to the future.
My dear friend Henry who lives across the street from me and has had the same Thai girlfriend / wife for ten years came up with an interesting hypothesis about Thai girls. God knows he has enough experience and is a wise man so I sat up and listened to what he had to say.
‘My wife has been taking English lessons for six years now, has been to America with me three times for a total of twenty-four months and as you know speaks English very well. She says the words but I wonder if the thought process is really there or is it like the monkeys in the spaceships that they sent up years ago? The animals had duties to perform, buttons to push, levers to pull but they did not really understand what was going on. I gave my wife three-hundred thousand baht last month to buy some land for us so we could build a house up country and she gave the money to her sister. “Don’t worry she will pay us back,” she said. Did you get a receipt, a document of any sort, a lien against her rice field?
I asked but could not get any kind of satisfactory answer. So now I’m out three large. What could be going on in that head of hers?’
A good question. What is going on up there? Not much I say. I have heard someone say that Thai girls have the cunning of a fox and the brain of a chicken. That’s giving them too much credit. The cunning of a fox? I hardly think so. If a Thai girl manages to fleece a man out of his life’s savings and a house to boot, it’s more likely the man is more stupid than the girl cunning. The brain of a chicken? Now that I may agree with, however you will see a chicken walking around and pecking at kernels of corn or food while a Thai girl is too lazy to get up off her own ass.
Often the three of us, Henry, me and his wife, Saa, will go out for lunch or dinner and Henry and I will chat away. I always try to drag his wife into the conversation but Henry has long since given up. ‘What’s the point?’ He would say. ‘You can’t believe anything these people say anyway. Do you know that she does not believe that man has walked on the moon? She can read but give her a map of the world and she’s lost. Mostly she reads children’s books, this after six years of English lessons. Her big interest is constantly playing games on her iPod.
Henry’s initial theory might be called cognitive dissonance which is a feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. This thought goes on to propose that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance or discord / disagreement by justifying or rationalizing their behavior.
There, that’s it. Perfect for Thai people who hate confrontation. Except in a Thai person’s brain there does not to be two conflicting ideas, one is more than plenty. Discomfort during or before the act of thinking, rationalization or any thought process is quite common. Just ask any Thai girl where she wants to go to eat; that could be the basis for another entire story.
Henry’s theory of the slowness or lack of any thinking or decision power came right up to me last night when I drove over the hill to Kata. There were plenty of parking spaces at nine o’clock at night and very few customers. I settled into a bar that I had been to before and met up with a girl that I had taken home twice already. After an hour of pool and a few drinks I asked her to come home with me.
Let’s keep this simple I thought as I pointed to me then her and said, ‘Pay bar fine.’
Many people say sometimes when a Thai girl is asked a question they have that deer caught in the headlights look about them but that’s giving them too much credit – to have the brains of a deer, to be startled. I could actually see this girl’s mind working as she looked at me.
I imagined a very small person in her head pulling on a cord trying to start up a feeble engine. One pull…putt, two pulls.. putt putt, and then one more pull…putt putt putt. And I then seemed to sense two or three balls being released inside of her head and bouncing slowly around until they fell into place.
‘The clock,’ she managed to sputter out. Pointing to the wall.
‘What clock? So what?’ I said.
Now I had just broken one of my ten bar girl rules. If they show the slightest bit of hesitation, just turn and walk away.
But since I had been with this girl before I was not thinking. I grabbed a passing professional that had been there for years.
‘What is it with this girl and the clock? I ask her to go home and she point to clock.’
The other girl didn’t miss a beat and kept on walking, ‘she have mehn, can not go.’
Of course if they don’t want to go with you this is the first line they use, the second is ‘have customer already for tonight’.
Now, I ask you does this compute? Does anything these girls say make sense? Who knows? Do they even know?
Henry said, ‘You’re reading too much into this. What difference does it make what they say? You can’t believe them anyway.